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india: India-made cough syrup case: Gambia panel suggests legal action against India, drug Co


New Delhi: A presidential task force has recommended the Gambia government to explore legal action against the Indian government, Maiden Pharmaceuticals and a local drug importer for the deaths of 70 children last year due to kidney injury allegedly caused by India-made cough syrup.

“It is safe to conclude, without any qualms, that the deaths of the 70 children below the age of five between July and October 2022 related to acute kidney injury (AKI) are a direct result of contaminated medicines found in four cough and cold syrups imported by Atlantic Pharmacy from Maiden Pharmaceuticals in India,” the task force said in its report.

“The government of Gambia through the ministry of justice should forthwith explore the possibility of instituting legal action against Atlantic Pharmaceuticals, Maiden Pharmaceuticals, and the government of India to seek redress on behalf of the families of the victims of AKI outbreak,” it said. The cough syrups were allegedly found to be contaminated with diethylene glycol (DEG) and ethylene glycol (EG). The task force was formed by the Gambian president to inquire into the deaths of the children. ET has seen a copy of its report. It said the government is at an advanced stage “in exploring avenues for potential legal action against Atlantic Pharmaceuticals and Maiden Pharmaceuticals, as well as potential redress through engagement with the government of India”.

Gambia Panel Suggests Legal Action Against India, Drug Co

“The government is currently benefiting from legal advice from a top-tier international law firm,” the report said. The task force also investigated how these syrups were imported from India and learnt that “the affected medicines were not registered with the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) before importation” even though the regulation mandates it. Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the leading public health body of the US, too, had conducted an investigation, and concluded that the medications contaminated with DEG and EG imported into the Gambia led to the AKI outbreak among children.

“They outlined that AKI outbreaks associated with DEG and EG contaminated pharmaceutical products have been documented in Panama, Nigeria, India, and Haiti,” it said.

The ‘Morbidity and mortality weekly report’ published by CDC earlier this year reached its conclusions by reviewing the medical records of 52 (67%) of the 78 identified patients with suspected AKI.

In October last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had said the deaths of dozens of children in Gambia from acute kidney injuries might be linked to contaminated cough and cold syrups made by Indian drug manufacturer Maiden Pharmaceuticals.

A committee set up by the Indian government to investigate the “mysterious deaths” of children in the Gambia. However, in its report submitted in January this year did not find any “substantial evidence” for establishing causality between the medicine and the deaths. However, India’s drug regulator has asked state drug controllers to instruct their government-run laboratories to analyse samples of cough syrups that have to be exported “on top priority” and issue test reports at the earliest in order to avoid delays.


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